Come with us as we explore Italy and check out properties for Gira! Italian Vacation Rentals.
Denise, who manages apartments in Rome, calls and asks “Can you meet me on the Via Margutta at 11:00am?” She asks if we know that it is a very famous street from the days of La Dolce Vita. In fact, Via Margutta, 51 is the address of reporter Joe Bradley, played by Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday.
We explain that just by chance, we had walked Via Margutta around this time last year with our good friend Delia, who always takes us the by hand and shows us the best that Rome has to offer. The street is full of fascinating art and sculpture galleries and a swanky hotel or two.
We’re excited to get into the city, but first there is the train ride from Castel Gandolfo to Termini. We weave our way down the switchbacks on the path that goes from the town center to the train station. There are only a few commuters waiting for the train, and some nuns on their way to take care of business in Rome. It’s a convenient trip, and within three quarters of an hour we are in Rome’s center, hustling our way through the fast moving crowds and picking up on the excitement of this amazing city.
From Termini, it’s a short trip on the Metro to the Spanish Steps station, which is only about a block from our meeting point. It’s always exciting to exit the subway here, as there are always crowds of people from all walks of life, often moving through the sounds of jazz or pop music from the street musicians who work this area.
Via Margutta is a hotbed of excitement as several ambulances are working their way through the narrow and barely negotiable passage that exists on this street. Cars are parked at odd angles, merchants are unloading their wares on the street, and pedestrians are a constant presence. We hope that whoever is in need is getting help as fast as possible. Rome, like most Italian cities and towns, isn’t designed for rapid response.
We greet Denise and she tells us she is happy that we have come, because there are some nice apartments to see. The first is on Via Margutta itself, not far from Joe Bradley’s famous address. It’s a two bedroom place high in the building, which has recently been renovated. It has a nice back position, away from the hustle and bustle of the street, large living room and cozy kitchen. Just right for two couples or a small family.
Rome apartments are a smart alternative to the cost of a hotel. You can often stay in the very best locations and still have lots of room and your own kitchen. Overall, the cost is much less than a hotel, especially if you are sharing with friends.
It’s a little early for lunch by Italian standards, but there is much to see today and so we sit down in a small trattoria on Campo dei Fiori and enjoy a soup made with white beans and tiny pasta. It’s delicious. All around us on the square, the merchants are taking down their stands and leaving behind a great mess that the city workers will soon clean up. It’s a daily ritual. The Campo is Rome’s great vegetable and flower market and even in the chaos of taking it all down there is much to see.
It’s a great day for a brisk walk through Rome and we go from apartment to apartment, stopping only to find the perfect gelato shop. Denise next takes us to a two bedroom offering near Campo dei Fiori, and the owner is there to greet us at the door. It’s a cozy flat with a nice kitchen and a view of the interior courtyard. She explains that there is a lot of variety in Rome apartments, and she is willing to help make sure we find a good match for our clients’ needs and the wide assortment of places she manages. Our final visit for the day is a practical and nicely renovated apartment not far from Termini train station. We bid farewell and thank her for an excellent tour.
There’s still enough time for a cross-town bus ride and visit to St. Peter’s Basilica. We walk briskly to Piazza Barberini and catch a bus from the curbside. There is a lot to see out the windows, and it’s good to take a few minutes to rest. We get off at the bridge that leads to Castel Sant’Angelo and walk up Via dell Conciliazione to the impressive Piazza San Pietro. Inside the Basilica there is a mass going on, which we respectfully join. On the way out, we take a moment to see the Pieta of Michelangelo.
The bus trip back to Termini moves at a snail’s pace and a gentle rain begins to fall. We are certain that we will not make the last train back to Castel Gandolfo, but miraculously we are able to get to the station, run to the train and take a well deserved rest.
Once back in Castel Gandolfo, our friendly hotel owner recommends the little family run restaurant at the end of the street — Trattoria Spuntino. It proves to be one of the best meals of our entire journey. The TV is running one of those silly Italian game shows, the owner brings his famous pollo cacciatore and I finish it off with a cold bottle of Nastro Azzuro beer.
Tomorrow: We explore Rome a little further.